'Speak to Didi' to be crucial for TMC’s candidate picks

TMC sources revealed these results of the initiative will play a key role in candidate selection for the 2021 Assembly elections. (PTI File Photo)

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been proactive in revamping the Trinamool Congress’ (TMC) ever since the BJP’s success in the Lok Sabha elections. One of her key initiatives, a brainchild of poll strategist Prashant Kishor, is the 'Speak to Didi' public outreach initiative.

TMC sources revealed these results of the initiative will play a key role in candidate selection for the 2021 Assembly elections, as only those party leaders and MLAs whose performance impresses the party supremo will get tickets for the next Assembly polls.

“It will act as a filter to seek out deserving candidates with a real mass base and exclude those who totally rely on the party without having any connection with the people,” a senior TMC leader said.

He also said that Kishor’s team will submit a report to the Chief Minister on the performance of party MLAs, which will play a key role in candidate selection for the next Assembly elections.

The experience of the TMC MLAs has varied. While a section of them incurred the party leadership’s wrath for exaggerating their performance, the initiative has become a blessing for MLAs with strong ground level connections.

According to TMC sources, an MLA from the Jalpaiguri district learned this the hard way, when he submitted a report to the party leadership with the false claim of having spent a night at a party worker’s house.

However, Kishore’s team members, who were present during the initiative, informed the party leadership that the MLA was actually at home that night.

“Soon after, the MLA got a call from the party leadership asking for the concerned party worker’s phone number. The MLA had no choice but to admit his falsehood and apologize,” TMC sources said.

The initiative is also particularly hard for those party MLAs, who live in urban areas but lobbied hard to get nominated from rural constituencies. TMC sources said that since these MLAs rarely visit their constituencies and operate through close associates, they face severe flak from the public when they visit their respective constituencies under the Speak to Didi initiative.

“Kishor’s strategy is to ensure that even such MLAs become proactive in reaching out to the people due to the pressure of Speak to Didi,” the TMC leader said.

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